Nose to Tail: Be Prepared for a Canine Sleepover

Zoom and Ireland Road Trippin!!

Zoom and Ireland Road Trippin!!

Are you hosting a canine sleepover party? Maybe you are helping out family or friends by taking care of their dog while they travel or head for a much-needed vacation? There are always a lot of considerations to think about when leave our canine in someone else’s care or do the same for them so I thought I would compile a few checklists of things to remember to help make preparations easier!

Short-Term Stay (e.g. one day):

  1. Enough food for the meals of the day.

NOTE: If your canine is on a special diet, prepare all the components before hand and write up some feeding instructions. Also bring their treats along if they have a sensitive stomach.

  1. Leash, Harness, and Collar (Make sure their ID and contact info is up to date!)
  2. Any medications needed for the day. Ensure instructions for proper timing/dosage.
  3. Let your “puppy-sitter” know about any specific behavioural things your canine may do throughout the day that is unique to them and also make sure you give your contact information (and a backup!) in case anything unforeseeable comes up.
  4. Before they leave on their adventure, take a moment to snap a photo close up of their face as also a full body shot in case anything happens and they bolt from your puppy sitter.

Long-Term (e.g. one week):

  1. Enough food for everyday that you are gone for. I like to leave a little extra (a couple extra meals worth) in case travel plans change.

NOTE: If your canine is on a special diet, prepare all the components before hand and write up some feeding instructions. Also bring their treats along if they have a sensitive stomach.

  1. Any medications needed for the day. Ensure instructions for proper timing/dosage.
  2. Leash, Harness, and Collar (Make sure their ID and contact info is up to date!!)… add an extra tag for the time you are away that has your puppy sitter’s information on it (name, address, e-mail, phone number) as this will speed up the pup being returned if he/she decides to go on a walk-about.
  3. Provide your sitter with a copy of your canine’s vet records (digital or paper) and give their veterinarians information (name, contact info, address, phone number) along with the details in case a medical emergency arises. If they cannot make it to your regular veterinarian, having the copy will give any veterinarian the background information they will need to answer any questions.

NOTE: Agree beforehand what the protocol will be if a medical emergency arises (how costs will be covered, how the caregivers will be contacted, etc.). Having this planned will make an unplanned stressful time much more manageable.

  1. If you have the time, go out with your puppy sitter for a walk or two, and maybe even a play, so that they can get comfortable with your canine’s behaviours and have the opportunity to ask any questions.

NOTE: This is a great time to go through their command list so the sitter knows how to ask the canine to perform a particular instruction (include this list as a part of your write-up!)…. Imagine not knowing the instruction that the pup waits for to pee!

  1. Write up a “day in the life of _____” so that the puppy sitter knows what your dog gets for activity on a regular basis. By sticking as close to their regular activity levels and schedules, the canine will be less likely to “act out” or develop new, and not necessarily productive, behaviours. It will also inform the sitter of any special things they may need to do (e.g. ear cleaning solution/wipes after a swim day) that they don’t necessarily perform on their own canines.
  2. Provide your destination contact information for your puppy sitter so that they can call or contact you even if their cell phones aren’t working, or they are busy visiting a family event. It might not be the best time, but emergencies never happen when the timing is “good.”.
  3. Before they leave on their adventure, take a moment to snap a photo close up of their face as also a full body shot in case anything happens and they bolt from your puppy sitter.

If your pup is prone to anxiety, then a great extra to bring along is a familiar smelling blanket or towel (something they sleep with) so that they can have some familiar smells around them when you are away and can help decrease stress caused by the new environment. If you don’t have a towel or blanket, then sleep in a old t-shit for a couple of nights and pack that along and it will help both with short and long-term stays!

I have also attached a checklist in .PDF file that can be opened with any .PDF reader to help make your trip easier.  Click the link below, download, print it off, share it with friends!!  And don’t forget, enjoy your trip!!

Canines By Design Sleepover,Vacation Checklist


Road trip! Travel happy and healthy with your dog



Since Canines By Design is traveling internationally this week, I thought I would take the opportunity to address some important points to consider when traveling with your canine and what you should prepare for.

Ah, the open road… Grab some refreshments and good tunes, then sit back and enjoy the ride, right? For many dogs, simply getting to go for a car drive is exciting and rewarding in itself. Auto-enthusiast canines are generally ready for adventure and handle it well. For some, however, car travel can mean upset stomachs, stress responses like drooling or barking, and even complete (uncharacteristic) meltdowns resulting in unhappy caregivers and destruction of hotel rooms. The worst part is, we can’t simply tell them everything will be alright, that “we’ll be there soon,” as we might do for another human traveller or young child. The best way to deal with these stressful responses is preparation. By using some of Canines By Designs concepts, such as setting up for success, these behaviors can be minimized and even stopped from occurring.

And, it’s good to learn how to best travel with your dog as it’s getting easier and more acceptable for your dog to join you on your family vacation. Hotel chains across North America are catching on that we don’t want to leave our pups behind! Alternate options are not always desirable or feasible: We don’t necessarily want to have to pay for a kennel service (after a lengthy and tedious research and screening process) or have to always find a stay-in sitter. In fact, planning a vacation and trip can be a great way to bond with your canine, to get out and explore, practice and proof, proof, proof! Together you can enjoy a relaxing vacation, but it’s important to consider a few aspects essential to making things smooth. So, how can you set your canine up for road-worthy success?

1. Plan your route and accommodations:

This first step includes some of the bigger “how” and “where” decisions for the trip. Let’s say you are driving over several days to your destination, and need to stop overnight before you reach your final stop. Too, if you aren’t staying with family or friends at your destination, it is important to plan out where you will overnight. This will impact how long you travel each day, and where you stay. When driving a distance, I generally add 1.5 to 2 hours of travel time to each day of the journey to accommodate bathroom breaks and play stops.

For your overnight location, many online booking services are a great place to start as they offer filters in which you can select “dog-friendly” locations. From my experience it is always good to double check directly with the hotels via phone or email to make sure you are aware of any upfront charges or deposits, of any restrictions and to confirm that they are aware your booking is for yourself and your canine. Sometimes, aspects of the reservation can be missed or lost in translation while using these services so I have found a quick call puts the mind at ease. If you forget though, I have yet (knock on wood) to be turned away for a mistake that occurred during the booking process.

2. Supplies:

Once you know length and travel time of your trip, you can plan for the amount of space you will need for your dog’s supplies. When I did my first trip with Zoom, I realized why you see parents with young children hauling so many bags with them… If you plan ahead, the supplies add up, but your success rate for the unforeseeable also goes up. Basic stuff to think about is enough food and water for each day of the trip. If you are traveling across an international border, use original bags for the food, as they do have regulations around pet food crossing the border and official packaging will help explain what it is (NOTE: they may still confiscate it as that is the regulation so don’t bring a big full bag. If you know you will be staying for a period of time, bring enough for each travel day and purchase more at your destination). Bring enough clean water with you to cover off stops and quenching their thirst. If your dog gets an upset stomach easily, bring familiar bottled water from home. Also include any necessary medication in their original containers that is needed for the duration (at minimum) of the trip.

It is a good idea to have a checkup before you go. If you are traveling internationally, you will need a health certificate and a rabies vaccination certificate to cross the border, so a routine checkup will be mandatory. Note: These certificates are only good for a period of time and then expire. Also ensure their heartworm and flea/tick prevention is up to date. Many veterinarians can give you a copy of your canine’s health records. Converting a paper copy to an electronic version means you can save it and carry it on a USB stick in your luggage, or as a PDF on your smart phone or tablet at all times without taking up space.  Also, make sure their ID tags, phone numbers, and addresses are up to date prior.

3. Plan for the unforeseeable:

If you know your pup is prone to stomach upset (or if you are unsure or on a first-time trip), come prepared with the items and methods you use to make your dog feel better. The last thing you want to have to do is call every local pet store to see if they have low residue food, or run to the grocery store at 11pm because you need white rice. You’ll also be grateful for cleanup supplies, like paper towels and garbage bags, if the situation arises.

Always bring a first aid kit for your canine. A basic understanding of first aid and wound care will go a long way to making you feel prepared.

Stress and stress responses can be hard to predict unless you have already had a diagnosis, and even then, the cues and triggers than set them off can be hard to plan for. . Sometimes all it takes is a little familiarity to alleviate the situation… minimize stress by bringing a few favourite toys and comfort items. I like to bring a blanket or two for the car seat, puzzles for Zoom to play with at the hotel rooms, and of course his favorite toys to play with on breaks.

Also, try not to leave your canine in a hotel room alone. The space is foreign and a closed door will not offer any comfort. If you are making trips to the car to unload, you can practice high level heeling, and also get them to help! Plan dinner around including them. Maybe that means a picnic meal at the local park or beach, or “staying in” at the hotel. I’ve seen a dog-friendly hotel that allowed canine diners to accompany their families at special tables in the lobby!

Beyond what I’ve discussed here, if you truly feel that your canine needs a little additional help for traveling, some fantastic naturopathic options have become available on the market to address travel-related and new environment stressors. These over-the-counter alternatives replace the more “traditional” method of using sedatives or tranquilizers to achieve “good” behaviour. Check out Canines By Design’s Links page for more information on some of these products which I’ve tried and tested myself.

So, there you have it. You’ll need to pack a few more things than just a playlist and some trail mix to ensure a great road trip with your four legged family members. But, you’ll also get to explore more great places together and enhance that great view out your rear-view mirror with a big smiling furry face looking back at you!

Check back next week to hear about our great CBD adventure abroad!